Buoyed by his strong defense background and Poles’ renewed fear of Russia stoked by the Ukraine crisis, Bronislaw Komorowski looks likely to win the first round of Poland’s presidential election on Sunday. How to ensure the security of Poland in the face of events in Ukraine was the paramount question presidential hopefuls had to answer when they gathered in a TV studio this week for a pre-election debate. That issue has preoccupied Poles since Russia’s intervention in neighboring Ukraine last year. While Poland is now a member of the European Union and a staunch NATO ally of the United States, it was under Soviet domination for decades after World War Two and so remains deeply sensitive to any Russian actions in the region.
Pre-election opinion polls give Komorowski, a former defense minister, around 40 percent of the presidential vote, with conservative rival Andrzej Duda on about 25-30 percent.
Pollsters predicted Komorowski would come first on Sunday but face Duda in a second-round run-off later in May that the incumbent is also likely to win.
In Poland’s parliamentary democracy the prime minister runs the government but the president wields clout as head of the armed forces, in coordinating foreign policy with the foreign minister, signing or vetoing bills and drafting his own legislation. He also appoints the head of the central bank although parliament needs to approve the choice.